Solar Research in Hawaii

The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii has installed solar panels at two schools in the state as it researches the effectiveness of different types of photovoltaic systems.

Three 1,200-square-foot net-zero-energy structures have been put in place—one at Ilima Intermediate School on Oahu and two at Kawaikini New Century Public Charter School on Kauai. The institute says it is evaluating new technologies and comparing them with traditional products.

The materials being tested are thin film technology, amorphous silicon and traditional monocrystalline silicon arrays.

The structures have high-tech energy monitoring instruments that are gathering research data on the performance of design and material components to compare the performance of the building on Oahu with virtually identical structures on Kauai. The system measures energy use as well as temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, lighting levels, air conditioning and fan consumption.

The project is funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research.

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